Living with credit

The bachelorette binge budget buster

Kristie Aronow

It was my first time planning a party, let alone a bachelorette party. Little did I know how much the whole affair would set me back.

Since the wedding date was set six months after the proposal, there wasn’t a lot of time to prep my budget. I had to put most of it on a credit card. It was excruciating to do so, but with my limited income, the choices were to charge the cost or decline bridesmaid title. I didn’t discover I’d be hosting the bachelorette party until a month prior to the event. This tight timeline ultimately took me further into debt than I’d like to admit.

My bachelorette bingeAccording Kelly Anderson, a contributor to the personal finance blog MintLife, it’s not atypical for bachelorette parties to cost $400 for each bridesmaid. The single night of fun in my old college town cost me closer to $500.

Despite the seemingly grand price tag, I really did try to keep the whole affair (mostly) frugal friendly. Here’s a rundown of the expenses:

Buying my plane ticket and paying for rental car gas (a fellow party-goer paid for the actual rental) would have caused my monthly budget to explode, especially since I would be driving to Missouri from Texas the following weekend for the wedding. To keep the cost of travel down, I used every reward point I had to purchase the ticket. (Sorry mom, I promise to visit next Christmas.) The flight would have cost $500 if it weren’t for my miles.

Pre-party prep
My first step was notifying guests of the party date. A few attendees also needed to fly in for the occasion, so the sooner I got the word out the better. To help keep costs down, I created a Facebook event. It made updating the women about time and place swift and easy, and it was free. Securing seats at the bride’s favorite restaurant was next. The average cost of a meal was $20, including tip, so each guest would pay for herself and one attendee volunteered to pay for the bride’s dinner. Scouting out a location for the group to get pedicures earlier that afternoon was also on my list. After some online price comparison searches, we settled on a place that offered to do everyone at the same time. The best part? The pedicure included a salt scrub, massage and polish for $30.

Originally, the plan was to host the party in the bride’s basement. Glamorous? No. Economical? Yes. However, the idea was killed by her fiance, a medical student who works the late shift at the hospital. Luckily, another bridesmaid found a great room at a local Residence Inn, and when split among everyone, it came out to $50 apiece. Plus, the free breakfast bar helped keep meal costs down.

After a night spent painting the town, we finished with an ice cream bar at the hotel. I bought the ice cream at a local grocer complete with all the toppings the bride desired. It only ran me $15 to feed the group.

Appealing for donations

Knowing that I couldn’t afford to pay for all the bride’s drinks, dinner, hotel, pedicure and ice cream (not to mention still buy her a wedding gift and get myself back to Missouri for the actual wedding), I wrote an email to the ladies who had RSVP’d asking them to volunteer to help pay for some expenses. It isn’t uncommon for bridesmaids to share the cost of the bachelorette party. Divvying up the expenses meant our friend felt spoiled and our personal budgets didn’t totally collapse under the strain of the evening.

While I think MintLife’s estimated cost is a bit low, keeping a bachelorette party local is a good start to keeping costs down. If I hadn’t used my miles to buy the flight, I would have shelled out $1,000 for the event. And many of the women at the party were able to come because I didn’t throw it somewhere too expensive. Everyone had a spectacular time and I was able to give my friend the final fling she deserved.

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